tv This Is America With Dennis Wholey WHUT April 15, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
>> we recently traveled to new york city to observe this summit on the teaching profession. countries with successful school systems come together to share ideas with each other. at the summit, i had a chance to sit down with some of the brightest minds in education today. "this is america" is made possible by -- the national education association. the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of
professionals. the ctc foundation, ofa communications. mr. secretary, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for this opportunity. >> how did the idea of a summit come about? >> we thought was important to not learn from isolation but from our colleagues around the globe we brought the union leaders. we did it last year. we did not know if it would be successful or a failure. it went extraordinarily well.
the feedback has been fantastic. it is a lot of fun. we learned so much from these other countries. it has been an amazing two days. >> what were the takeaways from last year's summit? >> there are so many comments that are interesting but what i did not fully appreciate was despite all the differences in geography and local context, the local issues we are grappling with. how do you support a workforce that is preparing for the 24 century still, how do you retain teachers, how to make sure that we have the skills that are needed. -- how do you support a workforce that is preparing for the 21st century skills. >> when you look at finland, what is going on there that you want to learn? >> south korea, singapore, finland, the lessons are clear.
they are smaller than us, and they are more homogenous. when you look at why they are so high performing, they have a very high bar for entry. in singapore and finland, only the top 10% of the people that want to teach are able to teach. 90% of the applicants do not come in. they have much better mentoring and professional development. they are training them at different ways and they are compensating them at a much higher level. teachers are revered their parents to one big thing we have done -- teachers are reviewed th -- revered there. one big thing that we have done is to take the lessons we have learned from those countries and apply them here. >> talk about recruitment, training, support, retention of
teachers. >> and compensation. >> and compensation. how do we put that into use here in the u.s.? >> not overnight. we are committed to take his work to the next level and this is a five-year strategic plan of what it takes to get here. what it fundamentally means is transformational change. this is not simply around the edges. >> this is a huge deal. >> talent and education matters tremendously. the reason why i think that this is so particularly important right now is that we have a baby boomer generation is moving toward retirement and we will need as many as a million new teachers in our country. we are looking to attract and retain that great talent and that will affect public education for the next 30 years. this is a big challenge but this is exciting. >> what i'm hearing is that you
will set the bar higher for teachers coming in to the system. >> we have to set the bar higher for teachers coming in, in terms of how we train those teachers, we have to set it afire on how we man for those teachers and give them good professional development and we have to pay teachers at a much higher level. this is across the board fundamental change. none of this is easy but this is the best our country could make. >> how do we get it through everyone's minds that the key to our social and economic success is our educational success? >> i could not agree with you more. education is the silver bullet. we have dealt with social problems because we have failed to educate on the front end. everywhere we go, we talk about education as the key. if we want our children to be successful and be able to compete in the economy, the only way we get there from here is
through high quality education. this has to be from cradle to career. this means great opportunities k-12. every group have to be going on to some form of education. >> what will give those teachers the respect they deserve? >> we have to respect them at a different level, we have to strengthen the profession. we have to have more assistance for those not working. we have to behave in a radically different way. every single high-performance country is out educating us. >> the last question, mr. secretary, if there is a second term for president obama. >> not if, when. >> what do you see as your mission and the president's mission in those next four years? >> this is not something that you can complete and the next
six or seven months, this is really a five-year plan. we will bring in a million people and transform education. that is the best thing we could give to the country. >> you want every single person to take away from this conversation? >> the most important thing we can do is to give every child in education and education is an investment, not an expense. we have to have a vision of reform. we have to invest at every level. we want the students to enter the next phase of college and career ready. >> thank you so much. >> after my conversation with the secretary, i had a chance to sit down and talk with the minister of education from singapore.
minister, thank you for sitting with us. >> thank you. >> you were recently in washington and something going on between washington and singapore? >> i had a very productive meeting with secretary duncan. we also wanted to promote calibration in three areas. we have the benchmark and the research and education. also the development of programs or school leadership. >> can both countries learn from each other? >> the u.s. has many areas of excellence which we can learn from. >> how about the summit itself? are there good reasons to be here? >> i think so. we can learn from each other. we have many common challenges that we faced and many interesting ideas which are being developed across the world.
the professor mentioned that the u.s. itself was doing different things. this is a great laboratory for us to see what works and what does not. >> people come to singapore because of the success that you have had and we are trying to learn from you. >> it is easier for us to do several things and get it right and hopefully we can share a better alignment across the system. >> in singapore, i know this from my visits and reading, the government is very involved in setting the tone. is it for education in singapore? >> i think that we place great importance on education, we place great importance of education as enabling individuals to fulfil their potential.
we are building a competitive economy. "so, the investment of the natural resources they say in singapore is the people. >> we have no natural resources of any form whatsoever. our people are the greatest resource, therefore we place great importance on developing each and everyone. >> when you serve a what is coming on in other countries, what makes the educational experience in singapore unique? -- when you survey what is going on in other countries, what makes the educational experience in singapore unique? >> we hardly had any private schools. that is because we believe deeply -- the students have very diverse
interests, each and everyone has the ability to learn. we must have a system that develops every child. we do this through designing a system that sets high expectations for learning and provides a multiple pathways and options, which are all nicely interlinked are around a child's progress and they can keep their own pace and to access a different path and to be the best that they can be. >> if there is going to be an article about singapore's success, how do you measure success? >> this is a multifaceted endeavor. what we hope to do is to develop every student's to be a competent person, a concerned
citizen and an active contributor. that growth is not easily measured. those are what we can take. this is international benchmarking. we can do this to the level of the payment of competency. we can do a benchmark across the country. we can do these for the percentage of students who complete the secondary education, this is 99%. we look at the percentage of students who go on to a post secondary education, in our case, it is 95%.
we also need qualitative assessments and that comes from a deep conversation. we have had employers and we're headed in the right directions. >> in singapore, is there a focus on how much knowledge you can put into this and how the total person comes out of the education? >> absolutely. it is very important for us to develop a whole person in the values and character, and in the ability to work with other people and the ability to collaborate with others. that is what the future is all about. also, high your order critical thinking skills.
>> this particular summit was focused on the teaching profession and i know that in singapore, just the recruitment of teachers, the recruitment, the support, the training, the retention is all part of the deal. >> absolutely. we place great importance on recruiting and motivating our teachers. new education systems can be better than the quality of his teacher. -- no education system can be better than the quality of its teacher. so, the teachers are critical because the learning takes place in the classroom but the quality
is determined by the quality of the interaction between the teacher and the children in the classroom. >> so, it is almost a relationship like parents and children. also, the theme of this summit, it talks about developing leadership and as i recall, as someone going into the teaching profession, you can select different opportunities. can you elaborate that? >> first, when we recorded teachers, we did not put them through a very rigorous one-year program.
we can pay for the full time fees and a stipend. when you get the program and education, this has been placed on probation. we are making sure that what a child learns the lesson is applied to the job. then, the career tracks are quite diverse. the first is a master teacher. we have a specialist track that developed the teachers and then
can become specialists into a areas. they become our specialist at the headquarters. finally, with the leadership track, we can develop future schooling. we think the development of leadership is critical. the leader sets the tone for the school and they are the person d develops the teachers and schools. >> let me ask this as a last question. what makes for great teachers? >> first of all, it is that every child can learn and therefore, we have the ways and means to inspire the ways and
means. we have their work that impacts life and they can ignite a love for learning in our children. finally, great teachers are themselves role models. they have to be masters of their craft in terms of the content of the knowledge, and the way to stimulate learning in our students and not just in terms of narrow content for broadly, the whole range of skills and inspire our children. >> inspiration? >> absolutely. >> a good teacher and spires. >> absolutely.
>> minister, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> to learn more about the important role of teacher unions, i talked with a representative from education international. he traveled to the summit from england. education international, tell us about the organization and the mission. >> this is a global union federation and it is the biggest of all of the organization's of people who work in the public sector in the world. there are 274 teacher unions attached to education international which represents 30 million teachers internationally. what it does is act as a conduit for passing information and sharing the practice and in a baleen conversation. it also lifts a particular
teacher policy. how do you actually enhance the ability to do this in the classroom? >> this is bringing together unions, isn't it? >> there is a very big debate inside of education international union movement about how much unions do for their members. education international is very clear that unions have enormous capacity to not only act on paying compensation but also to provide a professional place where teachers can share their practice, learn from each other, and have professional development in their learning. >> when you say shared practice is, what does that mean? >> this as international summit is about sharing practices. do they know the latest techniques for teaching children? do they know the best conditions
in which children learn? what are the best policies that encourage children to be enthusiastic about learning? and teachers to fill confident that they can make a difference as well. that is a big debate, actually. education international is about sharing the policy and the practice. >> what you say seems obvious, where is the debate. >> a good question, actually. there are a number of questions in this world and a number of governments in this world who believe that the number one thing about raising standards that does not have to do with that. raising standards is anything but concentrating on teachers. this is all about how there might be more choice and diversity, we need to have a hard edge accountability system. there are a number of
governments when they see a ball slowly coming towards them, don't catch it. for us, it is all about success. if you're going to be successful economically and socially, all students have to achieve, not just a small group of privileged children. your capital is the knowledge and skills. the most important thing is to have the teaching profession on the top of their game. they can make a difference to children's lives. >> we have jobs that go begging in the u.s.. >> that is a very good point. it is all very well, as you say. we need to concentrate on that there should be a continuing.
we need to concentrate on those advanced skills so that they are trained up for the type of jobs in the 21st century. very many governments do not have a vocational educational training strategy which means that you have skills, you have a relationship between schools and employers so that there is an exchange of teachers. this needs to be developed much more consistently. >> when you are looking at the u.s., what do you see vis-à-vis unions? >> in the past, that'll governments have stepped back from education -- federal governments have stepped back from education. the first time they have been in education was on no child left behind. what we have now is an administration that is aware that you cannot have an outstanding education system without learning from other countries. that is a massive shift and that
is the first time a federal administration has said that we cannot do it all on our own. what i see are the biggest unions in the world, the national education association and the american federation of teachers, have decided strategically to work with arne duncan to say let's work internationally to improve our education system and let's invest in education. >> that is a big change. >> a massive change. >> when i am reading on new zealand, finland, countries like singapore, this is recruitment, this is training, this is support, this is retention, this is making teachers lives enjoyable and stretching them as they go, not just parking them in there for the rest of their lives? >> i think that is right. what is important about some of the jurisdictions like alberta,
for example. what is important is that they have a systemic approach. they believed in an education system. this is about governments and the professions like the teacher unions taken this possibility overall for what happens in countries in the jurisdiction saying, how can we make it better for everyone rather than just saying, here is the money, get on with it. we have a pretty tough evaluation system. >> thank you so much. a terrific conversation. >> thank you. thank you. >> for information about my new book, "the chance of a lifetime ," and online video for all "this is america" programs, visit thisisamerica.net.